Jennifer Ann "Jenny" McCarthy (born November 1, 1972) is an American model, comedian, actress, author, activist, and game show host. She began her career in 1993 as a nude model for Playboy magazine and was later named their Playmate of the Year. McCarthy then parlayed her Playboy fame into a successful television and film acting career. Recently, she has written books about parenting, and has become an activist promoting research into environmental causes and alternative biomedical treatments for autism. She has claimed that vaccines cause autism and that chelation therapy helped cure her son—claims considered false by the medical community.
Modeling and acting
After getting accepted by Playboy in 1993, the magazine offered McCarthy $20,000 (equivalent to $32,177 today) to pose for its October issue. McCarthy became the Playmate of the Month and later the Playmate of the Year and was paid a id="mce_marker"00,000 salary. In 1994, because of her newfound public attention, McCarthy moved to Los Angeles and, for a time, hosted Hot Rocks, a Playboy TV show featuring uncensored music videos.
In 1995, MTV chose McCarthy to be the host of a new dating show called Singled Out, for which she left Hot Rocks. Her job as a host was a success, and Playboy wanted her to do more modeling. That same year, she also appeared at World Wrestling Federation (WWF) pay-per-view event WrestleMania XI as a guest valet for villain Shawn Michaels, who faced heroic WWF Champion, Diesel. She left after the match with the victor, Diesel. McCarthy returned to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, formerly the WWF) on the August 2, 2008 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event to thank the fans for supporting Generation Rescue, an autism advocacy organization. In 1996, she landed a small part in the comedy The Stupids. In 1997, McCarthy launched two shows. The first one was an MTV sketch comedy show The Jenny McCarthy Show, which was sufficiently popular for NBC to sign her for an eponymous sitcom later that year, Jenny. The latter show is generally considered a disappointment and was quickly canceled. Also in 1997, she appeared on one of two covers for the September issue of Playboy (the other cover featured Pamela Anderson). McCarthy also released an autobiography: Jen-X: Jenny McCarthy's Open Book.
In 1998, McCarthy's first major movie role was alongside Trey Parker and Matt Stone in the comedy BASEketball. The following year, she starred in Diamonds, a movie which was directed by her then-husband John Mallory Asher. In 2000, she had a role in the horror movie Scream 3, and three years later she parodied that role in horror film spoof Scary Movie 3 along with fellow Playmate and actress Pamela Anderson. In 2005, McCarthy produced, wrote, and starred in the movie Dirty Love, where she was again directed by her husband at the time, John Asher. In March 2006, she was given Razzie Awards for "Worst Actress", "Worst Screenplay", and "Worst Picture" for her work on Dirty Love, which also earned Asher a Razzie for "Worst Director."
In addition to her early TV fame on MTV and her short-lived, self-titled NBC sitcom, McCarthy has guest starred in a variety of other television shows including Stacked, Charmed, The Drew Carey Show, Wings, Fastlane, Two and a Half Men and Just Shoot Me!. She was the voice of Six in the third season of Canadian computer-animated science fiction cartoon Tripping the Rift. In 2005, McCarthy hosted a show on E! called Party at the Palms. The reality show, which was filmed at The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas, featured hotel guests, party goers, and celebrities.
McCarthy has continued her work with Playboy over the years, both as a model and in other capacities. She appeared on the cover of the magazine's January 2005 issue wearing a leopard skin version of the company's iconic "bunny suit" and was featured in a pictorial shot at Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion in that same issue. She was the second woman (following Carmen Electra) and first former Playmate to become a celebrity photographer for the Playboy Cyber Club, where she photographed model Jennifer Madden.
Jenny's younger sister Amy has also posed for Playboy. She was Cyber Girl of the Week for September 27, 2004, and Cyber Girl of the Month for January, 2005.
In 2007, McCarthy starred in a five-episode online series, called In the Motherhood, along with Chelsea Handler and Leah Remini. The show aired on MSN and was based on being a mother where users could submit their stories to have it made into real webisodes.
She has also appeared in two video games: playing the role of Agent Tanya in the video game Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3, replacing Kari Wührer, and the fitness video game Your Shape Featuring Jenny McCarthy.
On December 31, 2010, McCarthy was a correspondent in Times Square for ABC's Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. She also appeared in 2011's edition of ABC's New Year celebration where she kissed a nearby New York City cop. She appeared in the December 31, 2012 edition of New Year's Rockin' Eve and kissed a midshipman of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
She is the host of season 2 of Love in the Wild, which began on June 7, 2012.
McCarthy once modeled for Candie's, a shoe company. In one magazine ad, McCarthy posed on a toilet seat with her underwear near her ankles. Cultural scholar Collin Gifford Brooke wrote that the ad's "taboo nature" brought it attention, while noting that the ad itself helped to weaken that taboo. Another Candie's ad depicted McCarthy passing wind in a crowded elevator.
This theme was taken to a new extreme in her film Dirty Love, which featured McCarthy's character sitting in a massive pool of her own menstrual blood.
McCarthy dated manager Ray Manzella from 1994 until 1998. McCarthy began dating actor/director John Mallory Asher late in 1998. The couple became engaged in January 1999, and married on September 11 of that year. They have a son, Evan Joseph, born on May 18, 2002. Evan was diagnosed with autism. McCarthy and Asher divorced in September 2005.
In December 2005, McCarthy began dating actor Jim Carrey. They did not make their relationship public until June 2006. She announced on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on April 2, 2008 that she and Carrey were living together, but had no plans to marry, as they did not need a "piece of paper." Carrey almost made a mock proposal to McCarthy as a promotion to the film Yes Man for Ellen's Twelve Days of Holidays. McCarthy and Carrey announced that they had split up in April 2010.
In April 2012, McCarthy began dating Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. In August 2012, McCarthy announced that she and Urlacher had ended their relationship.
Activism and autism controversy
Jenny McCarthy speaking at the 2008 Ante Up For Autism benefit
In May 2007, McCarthy announced that her son Evan was diagnosed with autism in 2005. Before claiming that her son's autism was caused by vaccination, McCarthy wrote that he was gifted, a "crystal child", and she an "indigo mom". Evan's disorder began with seizures and his improvement occurred after the seizures were treated, symptoms experts have noted are more consistent with Landau–Kleffner syndrome, often misdiagnosed as autism. McCarthy served as a spokesperson for Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) from June 2007 until October 2008. She participated in fundraisers, online chats, and other activities for the non-profit organization to help families affected by autism spectrum disorders. Her first fundraiser for TACA, Ante Up for Autism, was held on October 20, 2007, in Irvine, California. She is a prominent spokesperson and activist for the Generation Rescue foundation, and serves on its Board of Directors as of January 2011.
A study found 24% of parents placed "some trust" in information on vaccine safety from celebrities like Jenny McCarthy.
McCarthy's book on the subject, Louder than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism, was published September 17, 2007. She stated both in her book and during her appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show that her husband was unable to deal with their son's autism, which led to their divorce. In 2008, she appeared on a Larry King Live special dedicated to the subject, and argued that vaccines can trigger autism. In an April 27, 2010 PBS Frontline documentary, she was interviewed about the controversy between vaccine opponents and public health experts.
In addition to conventional, intensive Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy, McCarthy tried a gluten-free and casein-free diet, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, chelation, aromatherapies, electromagnetics, spoons rubbed on his body, multivitamin therapy, B-12 shots and numerous prescription drugs. "Try everything," she advises parents, "It was amazing to watch, over the course of doing this, how certain therapies work for certain kids and they completely don't work for others ... When something didn't work for Evan, I didn't stop. I stopped that treatment, but I didn't stop." McCarthy has stated on talk shows and at rallies that chelation therapy helped her son recover from autism. The underlying rationale for chelation, the speculation that mercury in vaccines causes autism, has been roundly rejected by scientific studies, with the National Institute of Mental Health concluding that children with autism are unlikely to receive any benefit to balance the risks of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest posed by the chelating agents used in the treatment.
McCarthy's public presence, and vocal activism on the vaccination-autism controversy, led, in 2008, to her being awarded The James Randi Educational Foundation's Pigasus Award (granted for contributions to pseudoscience) for the 'Performer Who Has Fooled The Greatest Number of People with The Least Amount of Effort'. Randi stated in a video on the JREF's website that he did sympathize with the plight of McCarthy and her child, but admonished her for using her public presence in a way that may discourage parents from having their own children vaccinated.
McCarthy's claims that vaccines cause autism are not supported by any medical evidence, and the original paper by Andrew Wakefield that formed the basis for the claims (and for whose book McCarthy wrote a foreword) has been shown to be based on manipulated data and fraudulent research. The BMJ published a 2011 article by journalist Brian Deer, based on information uncovered by Freedom of Information legislation after the British General Medical Council (GMC) inquiry into allegations of misconduct against Wakefield that led to him being struck-off from the medical register (unable to practice medicine in the UK) and his articles retracted, stating that Wakefield had planned a venture to profit from the MMR vaccine scare.
Parental concerns over vaccines have led to decreased immunization rates and increased incidence of whooping cough and measles, a highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease. Neil Cameron, a historian who specializes in the history of science, writing for The Montreal Gazette labeled the controversy a "failure of journalism" that resulted in unnecessary deaths, saying that The Lancet should not have published a study based on "statistically meaningless results" from only 12 cases and that a grapevine of worried parents and "nincompoop" celebrities fueled the widespread fears.
Generation Rescue issued a statement that the "media circus" following the revelation of fraud and manipulation of data was "much ado about nothing", which led USA Today to report that McCarthy had "taken a beating on Twitter". Salon.com responded to Generation Rescue's statement with:
"It's high time the woman who once said that 'I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe' took a step back and reconsidered the merits of that increasingly crackpot stance. And it's time she acknowledged that clinging to research that's been deemed patently fraudulent does not make one a 'mother warrior.' It makes her a menace."
In January 2011, McCarthy defended Wakefield, saying that he had listened to parents, reported what they said, and recommended further investigation. "Since when is repeating the words of parents and recommending further investigation a crime? As I've learned, the answer is whenever someone questions the safety of any vaccines. For some reason, parents aren't being told that this "new" information about Dr. Wakefield isn't a medical report, but merely the allegations of a single British journalist named Brian Deer", she said of the controversy.
- Jen-X: Jenny McCarthy's Open Book, an autobiography (Harpercollins November 1997, ISBN 978-0-06-039233-8).
- Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth (DaCapo Press, December 13, 2005, ISBN 978-0-7382-0949-4)
- Baby Laughs: The Naked Truth about the First Year of Mommyhood (Plume, April 4, 2006, ISBN 978-0-525-94883-4)
- Life Laughs: The Naked Truth about Motherhood, Marriage, and Moving On (Plume, March 27, 2007, ISBN 978-0-525-94947-3)
- Louder than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism (Plume, September 17, 2007, (ISBN 978-0-525-95011-0)
- Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds (Plume, September 23, 2008, ISBN 978-0-525-95069-1)
- Healing and Preventing Autism Co-written with Dr. Jerry Kartzinel. (Dutton Adult, March 31, 2009, ISBN 978-0-525-95103-2)
- Love, Lust & Faking It: The Naked Truth About Sex, Lies, and True Romance (Harper, September 28, 2010, ISBN 978-0062012982)
- Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic (Hyperion, October 2, 2012, ISBN 0060392339),
Video game work